Renewing Our Commitment to AbilityOne and SourceAmerica

Bill Sisk (far right) joins other members of the U.S. AbilityOne Commission at the SourceAmerica conference in May 2015.
Bill Sisk (far right) joins other members of the U.S. AbilityOne Commission at the SourceAmerica conference in May 2015.

In addition to my role as an Assistant Commissioner for the Federal Acquisition Service, I also have the privilege of serving as one of President Obama’s appointees to the U.S. AbilityOne Commission. In that role, I work with colleagues from varied military and civilian agencies furthering the goal of maximizing the employment potential of people who are blind or have significant disabilities.

Last month, I attended an annual event for SourceAmerica (formerly NISH) in Hollywood, Fla. SourceAmerica is a stellar supporter of the disability community and this event brought together almost 1,000 people representing the wide variety of stakeholders. After a welcome message from Board Chair Paul Atkinson, new SourceAmerica President Steve Soroka outlined his vision for creating employment opportunities for a community that faces great challenges in finding meaningful work.

Featured presenters included Jill Houghton from the U.S. Business Leadership Network and Brad Seigfried of Office Depot.  More importantly, the dozens of training opportunities available to attendees allowed for detailed discussion of issues ranging from product packaging to implementation of an Executive Order on the minimum wage for service contractors.  Those sessions brought together government buyers, industry representatives and employees of SourceAmerica to share lessons learned on a scale that allowed for direct and personal interaction.

For me, participating in this event was a welcome break from my routine of meetings, tasks, and deadlines. Even while doing important and rewarding work, it’s all too easy to lose sight of the ways our daily tasks have an impact on individuals and communities around us. It was a personal reminder of the responsibility I share as part of the AbilityOne Commission. More importantly, it prompted me to bring back to GSA a sense of the ongoing need for our work. It’s encouraging to know that dedicated, creative people from all over the country share our commitment to realizing the vision of the AbilityOne community.